DC METRO AREA, United States of America — Federal Government EXPERTS (FGE), LLC in partnership with Coral BlockChain (CB) introduces the Rapid Acquisition Facilitation Tool (R.A.F.T.), which automates government procurement using state-of-the-art technology to streamline workflow processes. On 30 September 2019 TEAM FGE were awarded “Artificial Intelligence for CPARS - CSOP-HQ-19-000000240” this Commercial Solutions Offering was awarded by the Department Of Homeland Security’s Office of Procurement Operations (OPO).
BACKGROUND ON THE OPPORTUNITY:
The President’s Management Agenda calls for using automation software to improve the efficiency of government services. In guidance to heads of executive departments and agencies, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the White House Office Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directed agencies to focus on emerging technologies including machine learning and autonomous systems. OMB, led by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), is pursuing an Acquisition Modernization Plan that leverages leading-edge technology to enable the acquisition workforce to shift
its attention to higher-value work and focus more on activities that prioritize mission. Ideally, such solutions would be self-sustaining.
The Contract Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS)1 is the official source for pastperformance information. Past performance information is relevant information, for future source selection purposes, regarding a contractor’s actions under previously awarded contracts or orders. It includes the contractor’s record of conforming to requirements and to standards of good workmanship; forecasting and controlling costs; adherence to schedules, including the administrative aspects of performance; reasonable and cooperative behavior and commitment to customer satisfaction; reporting into databases; integrity and business ethics; and business-like concern for the interest of the customer.
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 42.1503(4)(d) deems all past performance data as Source Selection Sensitive; information is not releasable unless directed by the agency who submitted the data. The CPARS application is designed for UNCLASSIFIED use only and is designed using the Integrated Award Environment (IAE) design standards. CPARS is planned to merge into beta.SAM.gov, as part of
General Services Administration (GSA) legacy system modernization efforts.2
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, Title VIII, § 880 (Pub. L. 114-328), PilotPrograms for Authority to Acquire Innovative Commercial Items Using General SolicitationCompetitive Procedures, authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to carry out a “commercial solutions opening pilot program” (CSOP) to competitively procure innovative commercial items. The CSOP is a merit-based solution selection strategy for DHS to acquire innovative commercial items through the use of general solicitation competitive procedures and the award of a contract.
“Innovative”, within the meaning of this statute, is any new technology, process, or method, including research and development; or any new application of existing technology, process, or method. “Commercial item” has the same meaning as a commercial item under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 2.101.1
On behalf of the Chief Acquisition Officers’ Council and government-wide acquisition modernization efforts under the President’s Management Agenda, the DHS Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, through the Procurement Innovation Lab, seeks to determine the extent to which artificial intelligence (AI) can assist contracting officers to make more efficient and effective use of CPARS data by rapidly identifying relevant records to support past performance evaluations.
Contracting officers are required to consider vendor past performance when conducting source selections over the simplified acquisition threshold. CPARS is the central system through which the federal government collects and makes available contractor/vendor past performance information.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the volume of records and the inability to rapidly identify relevant reviews, make it difficult for contracting officers to easily utilize the data for past performance evaluations. An AI solution for CPARS may significantly assist contracting officers conducting past performance evaluations by identifying relevant past performance assessment records in a more accurate, consistent, faster and useful manner, reducing the administrative workload on contracting officers while increasing the quality of the outcome.
The Government desires one or more demonstrations of a proof of concept / viable prototype3 to determine the extent to which AI can assist contracting officers conducting past performance evaluations in making efficient and effective use of CPARS information. The Government hopes, as a threshold, that the demonstrations will show that AI can help the contracting officer identify which records in CPARS contain the most relevant information to the past performance evaluation in question. The Government also desires data-driven and evidence-based recommendations about opportunities to improve the data quality of the past performance information inputted by contracting officers into the CPARS, based on the provided test data set and informed by the development of the proof of concept viable prototype.
According to the Hon. Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment, “Acquisition Reform a Top priority”, www.defense.gov, Feb. 2019
“The DoD acquisition workforce is responsible for 89 major defense acquisition programs, costing a combined total of nearly $2 trillion. Acquisition reform is one of the three lines of effort spelled out in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. In summary, reform is about being quicker to ensure [and to] get capability downrange to the warfighter at the best price.”
In FY18 the Federal Government purchased nearly $520 billions of goods and services for its day-to-day operation. Federal acquisition professionals serve as the conduit that enables program personnel to deliver mission-oriented objectives as efficient and objective stewards of taxpayer funds.
Federal agencies have been searching for comprehensive emerging tech-empowered tools to support an agile acquisition process. Federal Government Experts, LLC (FGE) in collaboration with Coral Blockchain, an MIT startup, has developed the Rapid Acquisition Facilitation Tool (R.A.F.T.), to provide agencies with a collaborative, iterative, and agile approach to Federal acquisition.
Research shows that out of the $135 billion or 670,000 full time equivalent personnel who impact the Federal Acquisition process, each agency, procuring activity and procurement are uniquely different and often non-standardized; necessitating a tool that builds on the foundation of an agile methodology but can be rapidly adapted. The primary challenges R.A.F.T addresses are as follows:
· Requirement Definition: Inability to clearly identify the objective of the requirement(s)
· Acquisition Planning: Limited resources and time result in incomplete and ineffective acquisition planning.
· Source Selection: Inconsistent acquisition criteria and forms with ambiguous language, e.g. non-correlated sections L and M.
· Contractor Governance: Poor visibility around current contactor performance data coupled with a geographically dispersed workforce.
Contractor Performance Assessment Rating System: leverage RAFT's artificial intelligence (AI) will assist contracting officers to make more efficient and effective use of CPARS data by rapidly identifying relevant records to support past performance evaluations.
R.A.F.T CAPABILITIES -
R.A.F.T. supports the acquisition workforce and the regulatory process, enabling contracting and non-contracting professionals to collaborate on requirements definition. R.A.F.T.'s AI and collaboration abilities are built on a powerful data integration platform that provides a seamless link to any current or previous procurement or program data set(s), irrespective of its native format. Its primary capabilities address the aforementioned challenges through:
Artificial Intelligence: A powerful AI Assistant provides information and references, catches errors and initiates workflows
Machine Learning: R.A.F.T. is smart acquisition that learns the nuances of an agency and contracting patterns to continuously improve operations.
Distributed Ledger: Contracting activity, documents and internal criteria are housed on distributed ledgers providing traceability, security and data recovery.
Auditability: R.A.F.T. activities and records are logged on distributed ledgers, providing auditable records and activity logs.
About The R.A.F.T. Team -
The R.A.F.T. Team is comprised of Blockchain, AI and Acquisition experts who are known for its technological prowess in analytics, federal procurement, and workflow automation. They give clients solutions that make processes more agile than ever by utilizing highly advanced technologies.